3rd November, 2008
Please welcome world No. 7, Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Svetlana compiled a 44-18 win/loss record this year, and made it to five finals of Sony Ericsson WTA Tour events. She also led her country to the Fed Cup Team title. Russia's fourth success in the last five years. This is her fourth appearance at the Sony Ericsson Championships. Questions in English.
Q: Have you been pleased with your year? Can you tell us how you assess it, and what have been the highlights for you? What's given you the most satisfaction?
Svetlana: Well, I think definitely I had better years than this one, and it was not a bad year, but I'm ranked No. 6 or 7, you know. I know I can be much better, but still, it's been a tough year. And I'm looking forward to improve that. But still I think I still had some good achievements. It's been a very tough year for scheduling also with the Olympics and many more tournaments. But still, I survived. I am here in the Championships, so I think it's a great effort, and I'm looking forward to play here.
Q: You were training for so long in Spain, now you're working with Olga, what differences or changes do you think she might be able to bring to your game?
Svetlana: It's very hard to say something exactly. I only think it's been a positive difference. It's been a big move for me to move from Spain to Russia. And probably now I'm going to base in Monte-Carlo and Moscow. So, it's, I feel very positive about it, because I missed my home country very much. I feel very pleased when I am there practicing there and having my base there. You know, it just gives me some incredible support from inside, and the feelings and stuff being that all my family and my friends. And Olga, she's a great coach. She has experience, and definitely she helps me. But it's going to be a long-term to find one language. Because, you know, I've been working with so many years with Sanchez Academy, and Olga is very understand understandable and she helps me a lot and she supports me, so that's great.
Q: When did you take the decision to change the way you are going to leave now from Spain to your country? Was it something you were thinking about for a long time?
Svetlana: For one year, for sure, maybe one year and a half, because I was just, you know, I was coming back and back there. First of all, I would like to say I left Russia because I had no possibilities to playing there. Now I think things are different. I achieved much, like much things in tennis, and now I have different possibilities in Russia. I have more courts, more things the Russian Federation is also going to help me with. And I've been in Spain. I'm just coming back there, I was kind of bored. I was a little bit tired. I missed Russia a lot. I started coming back to Moscow or St. Petersburg two years ago. Every time I would come there, I would not feel like leaving, you know, and it was very hard for me. Even I was in Spain training, I felt like thinking about Russia. And I think I'm very patriotic person, so for me, it's always been a pleasure to come back to Russia and especially to play for my country. It was a hard decision. You know definitely it's a risky one. Because I was stable in Spain, I had everything there. I have my cars, home, everything, but it's never felt actually like home, home. So for me, it's very important to feel inside, well, and this is why I had the decision made.
Q: You're one of four Russian players here out of the elite 8. Does that still make you proud to be part of a dominant nation in women's tennis?
Svetlana: Definitely. It's a huge success for Russian Federation, for Russian players. I think everybody has their own history, all four of us. And there is more in common, hopefully. And the popularity of tennis is growing overtime in Russia. And we realize it's because of our success, so that's always a great feeling.
Q: Do you feel like you're a better player when you're not thinking too much on the court?
Svetlana: I thinking more than before, for sure because you grow up. That's normal. When you're young, you don't think much, you just play tennis. When you start to realize how important is this, how much effort you and your family, your people, close around you your coaches put into it, you value it much more. And maybe you're more stressed. But I think it's a good thing about it, because you start to think, you start to realize how important it is and how to hold the pressure. You learn a lot.
Q: You've had some good results, but struggled in the finals. Is that related to thinking about what's at stake too much or why do you think you've had problems when you've made it to the finals?
Svetlana: No, I don't think about it. I think in all final it's been a different story. It's not like I played some loser and I lost. No, not true. I've played some great players. No. 1 and No. 2, whoever, you know. They just played better than me. Maybe some days it was my chance, but it's not a big deal, because still to get to the finals, not everybody can, you know.
Q: You said that all the Russian players have a different story, but I'd still like to understand a little more how it is that Russia is producing so many good players and for so many years now? What is going on in Russia that produces this kind of tennis?
Svetlana: Well, I think it's not because -- it's not something like a system build. It's not exactly a system that everybody of us went through. It's a stage of our life where we survive, kind of surviving. You know, each one of us started with no money. We were living, I don't know where. When we travel, we travel far, lost money. We had to go through difficult circumstances, and this is what made us stronger. How they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. So I think about us, because we had tough times, but survived them and we know how much we worked for it. So that's why there are strong players from Russia. This is my opinion about that.
Q: I'm asking you to do a little guesswork here. When the Russian Federation gets more money, does that mean there will be less top tennis players coming from Russia or more?
Svetlana: I don't think so, because Russian Federation to get lots and lots of money, so maybe players less players could come. But now they have good examples to try the kids, and if Russian Federation can get build the courts, but still to get free, like free training and something, it's not easy, you know. Only the best kids get it. Definitely going to try to choose from the best players and to get to the best player is still very hard.
Q: Spending more time in Russia for you, are you hoping that will affect your on-court mentality in some way?
Svetlana: Well, my mental situation, my body, my soul, I guess, I just feel more happy, you know, more satisfied with myself, because being at home is what makes you a much more different person, I think. The mental situation during the match, I don't know. I have to see (laughing).
Q: But it's possible, it could make you stronger mentally?
Svetlana: Definitely, definitely. I hope (smiling).
Q: Why is it Jelena is No. 1 if at some times during the match she's able to play her best game. I am sure you think about this many times with the psychology, and the trainer and coach, and whatever. What is your answer, exactly? I mean, you are up-and-down because you think about something else? Because you are scared, you feel you're better because you distract? What is your answer?
Svetlana: Is that a mental lesson today here? Well, I guess here's my answer, you said it yourself. I can play my best tennis, but not during the whole match and the whole tournament. So this is a thing I should work on and find the solutions. For the moment, I don't know. I guess, for me this year it was very tough to bring this up, to bring my game to the best level because I had so make so many changes because I was not happy with everything how it was going. So, yeah, I'm working on some different tactics, also some different strategies. I guess I'm just waiting my time and hope it will come, you know, to improve and to play better most of the times.
Q: When you were coming out of Russia, I think Dinara was a much bigger name, she got more attention. She was a better junior. I think you said you used to lose to her all the time. Now you've had a more successful career pretty much up until this year. What's changed with her? You've played her four times this year, what's happened to her game this year?
Svetlana: Well, I guess tennis is the game which is very fair. I think Dinara worked very hard always. It's just been sometimes it didn't work her way. She had problems off the court, maybe with coaches. I cannot answer this question for her. But she's starting to be more confident. She wins a few matches and confidence, and starts to growing in confidence, and confidence means a lot in tennis. And I think this is what happened with her. And she's always working hard. It's the same, we have all ups and downs. I was on the rise, and she wasn't, now she is on the rise, I am not. You know, it's a sport. It happens. I only have to go and have good times. They help me this is good. It's very easy.
Q: Considering how many players are number one this year, and different Grand Slam winners, who do you think is the number one this year? Who is the player of the year?
Svetlana: Who is the player? I mean, you know, ranked it talks for themselves. I think right now it's Dinara and Jelena. Dinara had a very good part of the season, but she didn't start the season that well. And Jelena, maybe she didn't win great tournaments, but she's been more consistent. But I don't think we have a clear number one.
Q: Two sisters in a group, and the two Serbs in another group?
Svetlana: Hey, two Russians in every group.
Q: Yes, but there are four different stories. Which group, the Russian or the Serbs do you think are more together? They play together to try to win the group? You understand what I mean? To help each other.
Svetlana: There is no helping each other. You know, there are 8 players, everybody's for themselves. It's not like, Hey, Vera, I'm going to help you to pass the group. No, I'm going to pass it myself.
Q: How much do you think your time at the Sanchez Academy helped to shape you as a player? And why do you think there are no Spanish players at this tournament?
Svetlana: Excuse me, I didn't hear the question.
Q: How much did your time at the Sanchez Academy shape you as a player?
Svetlana: A lot, you know. I mean, I'm the best player I've been. I've been No. 2 in the world. I won the US Open, I did a lot of success because I've been working hard and I had good facilities. I don't know why there are not many players there. Maybe they're not professional enough. Maybe they get things too easy when they are good. Because they don't want strong enough, I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe they don't get good coaches. You never know. Everybody has different situations.
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